Aereo launches spin site for Supreme Court case

Less than a week before Aereo faces the Supreme Court bench, the company that streams over-the-air broadcast TV launches a site with support for its own arguments.

Aereo antennas
Aereo antennas. Aereo

Aereo, the service that streams broadcast TV over the Web, launched a site Thursday to explain its legal and ethical arguments to the public less than a week before it will make its case before the US Supreme Court.

The company, which is backed by IAC Chairman Barry Diller, launched in 2012 with promises of shaking up how we watch broadcast television. It is an online subscription service with arrays of miniature antennas that grab over-the-air programming, stream it online to paying members, and store it for them in a remote DVR. But Aereo doesn't pay the big broadcast television networks for that programming, which the networks argue amounts to copyright infringement.

Protectmyantenna.org explains the service Aereo provides and why the company believes broadcasters are suing to stop it.

"Broadcasters should not be able to use the Courts to drive forward what they believe are their most lucrative business models," the site says. Also listed are Aereo's briefs to the Supreme Court and lower court opinions that have favored Aereo, as well as "friend of the court," or amicus, briefs. All the amicus briefs listed are those in support of Aereo.

Missing are any court rulings that have favored the broadcasters, such as an injunction issued in a U.S. District Court in Utah that shut down Aereo in several western states, as well as any amicus briefs filed in support of the broadcasters, including one from the US government.

A full compilation of all the briefs in the Aereo Supreme Court case are available on the American Bar Association's site.

An Aereo spokeswoman told CNET that the site only includes briefs and decisions related to the case before the Supreme Court, and so other cases weren't relevant.

Aereo is set up to assign an individual, tiny antenna to each subscriber, and it makes an individual copy of the content for each user. That format is meant to circumvent copyright restrictions: anyone is allowed to watch broadcast TV free with an antenna, and Aereo argues it is simply setting up each member's antenna on his or her behalf. On the other side, broadcast networks argue that at the end of the day, Aereo's business is indistinguishable from the public performances of a cable or satellite service, except that cable and satellite providers pay for the right to distribute that programming. Without paying, Aereo is infringing copyrights, the networks say. (Disclosure: CNET is owned by CBS, which is among the companies suing Aereo.)

Aereo and the broadcasters are scheduled to present oral arguments before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

UPDATED at 9:58 am PT: Adds Aereo comment.

Read: Aereo's Supreme Court battle may change how you watch TV

 

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